Family Medicine Can Play Role in Stemming Violence, AAFP Tells Administration

January 21, 2013 04:40 pm News Staff

According to the AAFP, the issue of gun violence in the United States is a complex problem that necessitates the involvement of family physicians and other health care professionals who focus on preventive health, and the AAFP told the administration that in a Jan. 17 letter to President Obama.


Obama signed 23 executive orders during a White House ceremony( on Jan. 16 as part of a broad plan to tighten and overhaul the nation's gun laws in response to several mass shootings in 2012.

The Academy expressed its support specifically for an executive order that clarifies that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not prohibit physicians from discussing gun safety with their patients. "As physicians, we strongly support your executive order clarifying that no federal law shall be construed to restrict the patient-physician relationship and prevent physicians from discussing gun ownership and gun safety with their patients," said AAFP President Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver, in the letter, which also was sent to Vice President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Cain also praised an executive order that allows the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. "We applaud your actions to end the freeze on gun-related violence research and data collection at the CDC," said Cain.

In addition, Obama signed an executive order launching a national dialogue on mental health led by the secretaries of HHS and the Department of Education, which met with AAFP approval.

"The AAFP agrees that more attention must be devoted to identifying mental illness and providing the appropriate treatments to those diagnosed," said Cain. "We believe that family physicians, through new delivery models, such as the patient-centered medical home, are well positioned to assist in enhancing access to mental health services."

Cain also noted that although the AAFP recognizes that "guns are not the only source of violence, we share your belief that gun safety is an essential component of our national conversation on this issue and must be part of the solution."